What is 'real socialism'?

What is 'real socialism'?

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I have been assigned a monograph about the countries of real socialism. While I understand the topic and have been successful at writing up the work, I am having difficulty in finding a definition for the term 'real socialism' (which would form the introduction). I intuit that the adjective 'real' establishes a difference between the pursued (socialist) ideal and the social and economic reality in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. However, the pieces of information strictly about the term that I have found are scarce and even a bit contradictory.

For instance, in the corresponding Wikipedia article, it is not clear when exactly was the term invented (and by who). Moreover, there seems to be a conflict between the two paragraphs of the introduction:

The term referred to the Soviet-type economic planning enforced by the ruling communist parties at that particular time.

Then, in the second paragraph:

From the 1960s onward, countries such as Poland, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, began to argue that their policies represented what was realistically feasible given their level of productivity, even if it did not conform to the Marxist concept of socialism. The concept of real-socialism alluded to a future highly developed socialist system.

However, in the Deutsch version of the article, it is stated that it [the term] was invented by Erich Honecker -a leader of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany- in 1974, at one of the sessions of the aforementioned party. Unfortunately, I'm not very good with Deutsch, so I haven't understood much more.

Could you please explain

  • where does the term come from (who invented it and when);
  • what is its 'official' meaning;
  • and what does it, from the popular perspective, mean?

Note: I do not know the rules regarding using other's answer outside of this site. I have read this page, but it refers to referencing when writing an answer, not on how to use answers for one's own purpose. For the purpose of making it clear, I am not asking that someone does my task for me, and I would not copy or translate any answer directly, but rather form a new text with all the understanding that I have summed up. If this is against the site's rules, please excuse me and provide me with a link to the corresponding page. Thank you.

In Polish there are two words which can be translated to the same English "real socialism".

The first, most commonly known, is "socrealizm", which in fact is "socialist realism", a trend in art (whatever "art" means).

The second (the one you ask about) is "socjalizm realny".

The Polish Wikipedia says the term was introduced in the USSR in 1970s. by propaganda.

This 1970s. seems to be good beginning.

The "real socialism" was created in the moment when it was clear that communism is no longer acceptable. First of all, consider the communist eras (since the end of WW2, as they are common in all Soviet Bloc):

  • installing the regime (1944-1950s) - the era of terror. Although there were strong propaganda against "enemies of the people", it was commonly recognized not-as-good-as-it-looks. This was also time of building heavy industry (mills, mines etc.) as it was believed to be the fastest way to reach the West. Also, this worshiped workers and some workers were celebrities these times. In these times the art trend "socrealizm" was official. The times were ended by two major events: death of Stalin (1953) and events in Hungary (1956), which led to bloody suppression. The Hungarian revolution was known in the Bloc and could not be kept secret.
  • Over-investing in heavy industry and failure of planned economy led to some crisis then. This, combined with Khrushchev's speech (which could have been an element of court games), finished the idea of introducing the communism. It was now allowed not to say "comrade" to one another (although party members kept it), the Hungarian events were only an accident, terrible mistake, heavy industry investments were reduced, "socrealizm" ended in art, and a new era begun.
  • This era lasted until 1968, the invasion on Czechoslovakia. The success of Warsaw Pact intervention was Pyrrhic, because this did not solve economic problems, was not accepted by people of intervening countries (in Poland it is still embarrassing) and eventually led again to overthrow leaders in the Bloc.

This moment (with few years tolerance) can be said as the start of the "real socialism". The real socialism was better socialism than communism and this what was after it. It was now "real", so it ended or fantastic (ie. dream-like) visions. It was redesigned to fulfill modern requirements. This was a form of co-operation between the party and the people (in Poland Edward Gierek asked on a meeting with workers "comrades, you will help me, won't you?" - this was a very direct addressing).

I don't know how it looked in other Soviet Bloc countries, but economy success seemed to back-up the new era. This was the time when Western culture was re-introduced (like rock-and-roll, TV, cars etc.). In Poland this was paid by taking loans, but was good to explain initial successes of this politics.

Although again in the beginning of 1980s this led to another riots, the reasoning was kept: the system is good, but it was incorrectly introduced. The real socialism is such kind of socialism that takes into account true life, it is not only a vision. This is a practice, not a theory.

The term "real socialism" is still in use (and with the same context, so it is good, but poorly introduced). On a socialist page there is an essay "What is the real socialism?", so how the socialism should change to meet the current era requirements.

Why Younger Americans Misunderstand True Socialism

&ldquoSocialism does not mean government owns everything,&rdquo Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained earlier this summer during an Instagram live stream. &ldquoI disagree with that notion because I think it is undemocratic. I think that it is very easily corrupted, and I don't think that that's a good thing.&rdquo

Three months prior to Ocasio-Cortez&rsquos declaration, a Harris Poll provided exclusively to Axios showed that 61% of Americans ages 18 to 24 have a positive reaction to the word &ldquosocialism,&rdquo while 58% responded similarly to the word &ldquocapitalism.&rdquo Conversely, only 27% of people age 65 and older had a positive reaction to the word that most of them still associate with the Red Scare.

The poll also showed that millennials and Gen Zers are more likely than previous generations to accept socialistic policies and values. These younger generations, for example, overwhelmingly believe that government should provide universal health care and tuition-free college. Half of millennials and Gen Zers claim they would prefer living in a socialist country.

In response to this trend, economists Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell recently discussed their new book, &ldquoSocialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World,&rdquo at the Cato Institute. Powell said it&rsquos not surprising that socialism is popular now in the United States, though he added that this favorability comes from an illusion.

Much of America&rsquos youth, Powell continued, has been led into a state of confusion by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has repeatedly cited Nordic countries as examples of socialism. &ldquoWhen you hear Bernie and others say this, they don&rsquot mean real socialism in the way that Bob and I defined the term of the government owning most of the means of production,&rdquo Powell said. &ldquoHowever, Bernie and AOC and the rest of them do want to march you down the road of serfdom &hellip moving to Medicare for All.&rdquo

After visiting Sweden, Lawson and Powell concluded that it&rsquos more capitalist than socialist. They continued on their exploration to Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, China, Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia &ndash all places where socialism does or has existed to varying degrees. Finally, Lawson and Powell made their way back to a convention in Chicago for &ldquothe largest gathering of American socialists&rdquo on the weekend of Independence Day.

Lawson was surprised by how many young leftists at the conference were calling one another &ldquocomrade&rdquo but were unclear of the definition of socialism in a classical sense. Many of the attendees expressed their desire to fight for more justice in America: Be more pro-immigration, more antiwar, and roll back policing. Powell, however, argued that the real solution to these problems is not socialism, as the younger generations have been talked into believing.

&ldquoThe young socialists &hellip many of them just don&rsquot identify with abolishing private property,&rdquo he said. &ldquoA lot of them think in aspirations and goals, rather than means of achieving them.&rdquo

According to Gary Wolfram, the director of economics at Hillsdale College, one of the reasons younger generations think more abstractly in this regard is because the average person is not taught about how markets work in their K-12 education: &ldquoThey think that somehow this stuff just magically shows up. And AOC can start providing free stuff for everybody, and it will all be there.&rdquo

This lack of education, Wolfram said, has caused many of America&rsquos youth to look at economic inequality differently than their predecessors do. Inequality of income is one of the foundations of liberalism and a driving force behind innovation, he pointed out. Based on young people&rsquos misunderstanding of this concept, however, it&rsquos no surprise that many of them think idealistically about ending what it a societal necessity.

Matt Kibbe, president of the libertarian organization Free the People, added to the Cato discussion by referencing Friedrich Hayek&rsquos 1949 essay &ldquoIntellectuals and Socialism&rdquo to explain the appeal of socialism to America&rsquos youth. He argued that younger generations care less about logic, economics, or empirical evidence than human-based values. Young intellectuals are attracted to the message of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, Kibbe said, because the two have crafted a vision and imagined a utopian future that appears better than the status quo.

&ldquoSocialism, in the narrative of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a belief in community, a belief in people at the local level working together to solve problems and respecting each other. And somehow, that bottom-up process is a way that we can solve all of the problems. &hellip She uses that word &lsquodignity&rsquo a lot. Community, dignity, bottom-up, peaceful cooperation these are not socialist concepts,&rdquo Kibbe explained.

Kibbe emphasized that anyone who supports free market economics should take the time to understand why younger generations think in terms of values and experiences but not facts. Ocasio-Cortez made the observation that her generation has never known true prosperity. Millennials and Gen Zers, after all, grew up watching Wall Street being bailed out and are now facing more college debt than previous generations.

&ldquoThose of us that crunch numbers &hellip by any conceivable measure, we are living in the most prosperous, most opportunistic, most beautiful times in the history of the universe, but &hellip there&rsquos a lot of reasons, from [Ocasio-Cortez&rsquos] perspective, that things could suck, even though things are the best they&rsquove ever been,&rdquo Kibbe observed.

Real Socialism

People hate America's big disparities in wealth. It's a reason why, among young people, socialism is as popular as capitalism.

The Democratic Socialists of America want a country based on "freedom, equality and solidarity." That sure sounds good.

But does socialism bring that?

My new video debunks several myths about socialism.

One reason for socialism's continued appeal is linguist Noam Chomsky. For generations, his work has taught students that capitalism is "a grotesque catastrophe."

I assumed the fall of the Soviet Union would put an end to such misinformation. It did -- for about a month.

But since then, the lust for socialism has come back strong. Today, Chomsky says that the Soviet Union "was about as remote from socialism as you could imagine."

"Absurd!" responds economist Ben Powell, author of "Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World."

When the Soviets made private businesses illegal, says Powell, "that's about as close as the world ever saw" to pure socialism.

Now that the Soviet Union is gone, MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi says, "there is no true socialist country that exists."

No? What about Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Venezuela?

Velshi didn't respond when we asked him.

Venezuela was once Latin America's richest country. Now it's the poorest. Many in the media claim that its fall has "nothing to do with socialism," just "poor governance."

John Oliver says, "Chavez's programs could have been sustainable if he pursued a sound economic policy."

"Yeah," laughs Powell. "Sustainable if he had a sound economic policy called capitalism."

I push back. "Why does it have to be capitalism?" Why not socialism without bad management?

"That's the nature of socialism!" Powell replies. "Their economic policies fail to adjust to reality because economic reality evolves every day. It's millions of decentralized entrepreneurs and consumers making fine-tuning adjustments."

Powell notes that in our capitalist society, when COVID-19 hit, businesses quickly adjusted. Restaurants switched to takeout and delivery. They built outdoor patios with heat lamps. Supermarkets opened early so the elderly could shop with less risk. Alcohol companies started producing hand sanitizer. Ford used its 3D printers to make face masks.

The media whined about "lack of federal direction," but no central authority could direct all those individual adjustments in thousands of different places. In fact, federal direction would have prevented it.

"In a socialist economy, you get a one-size-fits-all adjustment," adds Powell. "You miss out on this learning process where entrepreneurs copy others when they see things successful and stop doing it when it's not." By contrast, "In a market economy, everybody's little adjustments get tested, and we get to see what works."

In America, Blockbuster video was a great success. But then Netflix offered something better -- no driving to a store, no late fees. Because Blockbuster didn't immediately adjust, it went bankrupt.

"In a socialist economy, every adjustment needs to be commanded," says Powell. "Communicate it down and get everybody to do the right thing. That's impossible."

That's why under socialism, shortages are routine. In Venezuela, there's so little food for sale that Venezuelans have lost weight.

Yet, "journalists" at Vox produced a video titled, "The Collapse of Venezuela, Explained," without mentioning socialism even once. Vox's explanation for Venezuela's fall: "Oil prices plummeted."

"The oil price is a complete distraction," says an exasperated Powell. "There's plenty of countries that depend on oil revenue. When oil prices went down, people there didn't start losing weight. That just happened in Venezuela."

Some claim Venezuela and Cuba's people struggle mainly because of America's economic sanctions and embargo.

"They certainly don't help the people," says Powell, "but it's an afterthought as a reason for their suffering."

Yes, It Was “Real Socialism.” No, We Shouldn’t Try Again.

21 July 2020, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schwerin: The Lenin monument in the Mueßer Holz . [+] development area, which is supported by wooden planks, is currently being given a new base. The city administration had decided to renew the area as well as an information board after the monument was damaged several times. The sculpture of the former Soviet leader, created by the Estonian sculptor Jaak Soans, has been standing in the prefabricated concrete slab district since 1985 and is now considered one of the last Lenin monuments in Western Europe. Photo: Jens Büttner/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa (Photo by Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

The resurgence of self-described “democratic socialists” in the last few years leaves me somewhat puzzled. It’s not like we don’t have a pretty solid track record on socialism—and one that was foreseen by Eugene Richter well before the Bolsheviks rose to power in Russia. What gives?

In his 2019 book Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies, Kristian Niemietz of London’s Institute of Economic Affairs explains a three-act “people’s romance,” to borrow Daniel Klein’s phrase. The first act, shortly after the Revolution, is the “honeymoon.” Defenders of the noble experiment tweak the skeptical neoliberal naysayers by pointing to apparent short-run successes. They say things like “the naysayers said socialism can’t work, but [insert name of latest socialist darling here] proves otherwise!” They proclaim, as the journalist Lincoln Steffens did upon seeing the Soviet economy in operation, “I have seen the future, and it works!”

Except that it doesn’t. As time goes on, socialism’s internal contradictions begin to overtake the short-run gains. This leads to act two, the “excuses-and-whatabouttery” phase. Here we learn that collectivized agriculture or “land reform” would have worked had the weather cooperated. Or we learn that it wasn’t socialism that failed rather, oil prices plunged. Or we learn that socialism might have its problems but capitalism isn’t perfect, either.

Finally, Niemietz notes, we end up at the end of the history of socialist apologetics in act three: the “not-real-socialism” phase. Here we learn that “socialism hasn’t failed socialism hasn’t been tried.” Early enthusiasm for the regime’s experiment as proof that socialism could work ends up in the memory hole, and apologists for socialism claim that the USSR, China, Cambodia, and other places weren’t “real socialism” even though a lot of those same apologists were claiming that these societies were proof that socialism could work, at least during the honeymoon phase. As he writes on page 63:

“. Western cheerleaders flocked to the Soviet Union in their thousands, and returned full of praise. At that time, the claim that Stalinism did not constitute ‘real’ socialism would have seemed outlandish.”

Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the book "The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America's Past."

“Real socialism hasn’t been tried!”

Anyone who’s gone to college in the past few decades has probably heard some form of this phrase to excuse the failures of socialism and distinguish between “nice” socialism and the “mean” socialism of, say, Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

Oh, and maybe communist Cuba isn’t all bad, they say. Well, yes it was and still is.

Regardless of the excuses for actual authoritarian regimes, socialists typically try to soften what their ideas would look like in reality and dodge the endless historical and present examples of the ideology’s failure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I.-Vt., continually tries to thread this needle—essentially relying on the old Cold War leftist analogy of not wanting to be like Washington or Moscow.

Sanders was asked by a Russian immigrant and student from the University of Michigan at a Fox News town hall Monday how his brand of “democratic socialism” would be different than the kind that led to the horrors of the USSR.

“What happened and existed in the Soviet Union was not socialism. It was authoritarian communism,” Sanders replied. “And communism, whether in Cuba, whether in the Soviet Union, or whether in other countries, was marked by totalitarianism, was marked by throwing millions of people into the Gulag.”

The Gulag, the Soviets’ infamous network of prison camps, held as many as 17 million political prisoners in the 1930s and 1940s, many convicted based on false testimony.

It’s good to hear Sanders at least recognize this, and it’s a shame he didn’t take this more seriously in the 1980s when the Soviet Union was still a threat and Sanders was telling Americans about all the neat things the Soviets do better than America.

Not to mention his efforts to look at the bright side of various other socialist, communist, and authoritarian regimes. Sanders has a knack for dumpster diving in the ash heap of history

But if we take Sanders at face value that he makes a huge distinction between good and bad kinds of socialism, what should we make of that? Choose the right path on the road to socialism and end up in utopia, choose the wrong one and end up with dictatorship?

National Review’s David Harsanyi wrote about why this is an absurd way to look at socialism as an idea. He noted that it’s true not every socialism system leads to absolute economic collapse and dictatorship. For instance, Israel’s early socialist experiments, Harsanyi explained, merely kept people poor, not starving.

Here is the critical point, though.

Although socialists see things such as private property rights as suspicious, a tool for the rich to exploit the weak, nearly the opposite is true. Strict private property rights are a protection for the weak against the strong, a protection against the mob as well as the elite, powerful, and connected.

“[L]eftists like Bernie like to act as if socialist ideology is incompatible with totalitarianism, when the opposite is true,” Harsanyi wrote, adding:

The nationalization of industry and dispensing with property rights—necessary for any genuine socialism to occur—can’t be instituted without coercion and a centralized authoritarian effort. And even if the effort to redistribute property is first supported by the majority, as soon the state comes for your stuff—and it always does—the ‘democratic’ part of the equation starts to dissipate.

This is essentially the reason why a socialist system leads to tyranny and why a constitutional system, such as the one created by our founding generation, leads to liberty and prosperity.

In the most basic sense, the distinction between the outcomes of these systems comes down to an understanding of human nature.

The Founding Fathers were deeply concerned with placing limitations on power to protect the equal, natural rights of citizens and create a free and functioning country.

A socialist society can’t rely on strict limitations on government power, as a free society is inherently, materially unequal. Left to pursue their own goals, people of various abilities and motivations will achieve different outcomes. Even the general desire to “pursue happiness” as each of us sees it typically will end with highly varied outcomes.

And no system, no matter how crafted, can make up for the individual variances of our lives. Socialism is the tool that leftists dream will smooth over inequality, will lift up the oppressed to put them on equal footing with the privileged.

To fulfill its promises, socialism must inherently be authoritarian. To get people to fork over their wealth, force citizens to make up for economic shortages detached from the variance of supply and demand, and ensure that nobody rises too much or falls too low, a powerful, compulsive, and ultimately unlimited government is necessary.

The problem is, unlimited power in the hands of a monarch, a mob, or a central committee always will be prone to rampant abuse and will sacrifice the God-given rights that are the very foundation of a just government.

Not only is freedom sacrificed but, perhaps ironically, so is community as society devolves to seeing the blunt instrument of the state rather than family and civil society as the basis of well-being.

So although socialists, or democratic socialists, or whatever they like to call themselves, continually dance around or dismiss the evidence that so many socialist countries have devolved into dictatorship, the reality is that authoritarianism is a bug in the system, not an outlier.

Your country may survive a mild case of socialism, but a disease is still a disease.

Real Socialism Has Been Tried. It Failed Miserably

A constant refrain from the socialist left is that “real socialism” hasn’t been tried before.

If you point to a book like The Gulag Archipelago to show the evils of socialism/communism, they’ll claim that the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) wasn’t real socialism because…it just wasn’t.

If you use any of the horrifying examples of the human toll of socialism found in Rand Paul’s excellent The Case Against Socialism, especially the examples of how horrifying China was during Mao’s Red Terror, they’ll claim that China isn’t an example of “real socialism” because…it now has corporatist features. Mention that those features have made it better rather than worse since the days of Mao’s unadulterated socialism and they’ll lose their minds.

Ditto that for Venezuela, Cuba, Burma under the Khmer Rouge, and every other wretched, totalitarian, socialist state that killed millions of its citizens during the horrifying bloodbath that was the 20th century.

To these radicals, facts themselves matter not a bit all that is relevant is how they “feel” about capitalism and socialism.

Hence why, although they refuse to recognize every example of “real socialism” presented to them, they cling to the absurd belief that the social democracies of the Baltic are “socialist” countries.

Those nations insist they aren’t socialist nations and are correct although they have far too large of a welfare state for the liking of most Americans, they certainly aren’t “socialist” states. There’s no government ownership of the means of production and the markets are quite free.

But none of that matters to the average leftist. He or she will just keep insisting that “real socialism hasn’t been tried,” or, if they’re feeling especially bold, that it only has been tried in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

New Zealand

New Zealand may not be a socialist country, but the welfare system in the country is very wide ranging, offering support for housing, unemployment, health, child care, and education as well. Therefore, New Zealand has many of the characteristics of a socialist country, even while remaining officially free market.

The location of Hobbiton, as used in the Lord of the Rings films. Near Matamata in New Zealand (image CC BY 2.0 by Rob Chandler via Wikimedia Commons)

Socialism in the U.S.: Two Competing Perspectives

Democrats More Positive About Socialism Than Capitalism

Democrats' positive views of capitalism have dropped significantly, and Democrats now view socialism more positively.

Gallup Vault: Americans' Views of Socialism, 1949-1965

Gallup included "socialist" as a standard option for party ID in early polling. Midcentury surveys showed Americans saying U.S. socialism was growing.

Looking Into What Americans Mean by "Working Class"

Some Americans may literally define the "working class" as those who are working, rather than as a position in the socioeconomic hierarchy.

Americans Are Still Confused About What Socialism Actually Is

Last week, this column asked: "Why are we still debating the merits of socialism?"

Based on quite a few responses, I've come up with three main answers. First, a surprising number of people still are seduced by its nice-sounding promises. Second, some politicians and activists are using the term again, which gives rise to this discussion. If you ask the public anything, including the virtues of cannibalism or self-immolation, a certain percentage will like the idea. Third, many people think wanting more social-welfare programs is the same as being socialist.

It is a good idea for people living in a self-governing democracy to have discussions about basic political philosophy even if the debates can become overheated in a world dominated by social media. As King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun." The same ideas and temptations are always with us, so reprising musty old debates is healthy. Here goes.

Regarding the first answer, some readers criticized me for bringing up the suffering in the Soviet Union, Cambodia, Cuba and Venezuela. That's not socialism, they say, but communism. Russia was known as the United Soviet Socialist Republic and all such regimes referred to themselves as socialist, but, yes, communism is an extreme example. But both rely on the transfer of power from individuals to the state. As the saying goes, any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. Socialistic governments of all types obliterate the incentive to work and invest, so they end up just taking things away.

Today's democratic socialists are, quite obviously, not calling for the creation of gulags and state ownership of everything, even if some of them (see Bernie Sanders) had nice things to say about Cuba's Fidel Castro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. But those "bad" socialists and communists didn't call for those horrors, either. Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin used the motto, "Land to the peasants, peace to the nations, bread to the starving." Sounds good, right?

Hugo Chavez didn't promise that in 10 years people would be hunting rats out of dumpsters to feed their families, but wrote into Venezuela's constitution that, "Health is a fundamental social right, an obligation of the state." As late as 2013, prominent progressive activists were still praising the country's economic miracle. Today's democratic socialists probably emulate a Scandinavian welfare state, but those countries are not socialist and are moving in a less redistributionist direction.

There is indeed nothing new. Perhaps it's human nature to cheer politicians who make grandiose promises that don't pan out, while being overly critical of the flaws in a system that has created unparalleled wealth and opportunity. But can't we try to be a little wiser?

Regarding the second answer, the renewed and proud use of the socialist term is what I'm reacting against. Similarly, I'm also troubled by some American conservatives, including our president, who proudly use the "nationalist" term. Christian writer C.S. Lewis described patriotism as love of country, but wrote that nationalism can lead to "a devilish form of ideological thinking that propels morally destructive powers into leadership."

Left or right, terminology matters. Most of my life was set against a Cold War backdrop. My father and his family were rounded up by the Nazis. My wife's family suffered through Polish communism, so I'm more willing than many others to believe that American variants of "socialism" or "nationalism" can go too far.

In the column, I mentioned the Democratic Socialists of America website, which argues that "working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs." You don't think that idea—people apparently should vote on how other people's businesses are managed—could lead to draconian results?

Yes, early American socialists championed women's suffrage and an end to child labor. Socialists, however, weren't the only people pushing those policies, which aren't "socialism" as much as reforms that take hold as nations become more prosperous and enlightened thanks to industrialization and, yes, market capitalism.

Regarding the third answer, some critics noted that Western democracies have passed socialistic programs such as Social Security and Medicare—and that hasn't led to gulags. True enough. Wealthy, capitalistic nations have the excess wealth to afford costly entitlements. But look at the resulting debt levels. These Ponzi schemes are unsustainable and do an iffy job providing comfortable retirements and health care for the masses. They embody many flaws of socialism, even if they have not led to disaster. That could change because Democratic socialists want to expand them much further.

Polls say large percentages of Americans have a vaguely warm view about socialism. The best response is to highlight its failures in its many forms, especially as some politicians use the term in a positive way. Let the debate continue.

5 Ways Socialism Destroys Societies

There are a lot of arguments about whether communism, socialism, and liberalism are the same thing. What shouldn't be arguable is that they're all closely related branches of the same tree. If you don't want to live in a house made out of Aleppo Pine, you probably won't like a Coulter Pine or Eastern White Pine house either. However, since socialism has failed so often, socialists of every stripe bend over backwards to disassociate themselves from the many other disasters created by their ideology. Still, a pine by any other name is still a pine.

Socialism is particularly dangerous because it's so perfectly suited for the modern era. It's the ultimate "miracle" product: it's "nice," it's "fair," it'll make you feel good about yourself, it'll "help" people who "deserve it" by taking things away from people who "have so much" they'll barely miss it. It sounds wonderful, doesn't it? But, like most products with sleazy salesmen and hidden track records, the promises socialism makes are all a mirage. Since our schools do a terrible job of teaching history and economics these days, it's our job to explain how socialism slowly, insidiously eats away at the core of a society.

1) It kills economic growth: Strong economic growth is what produces jobs, tax revenue and a better standard of living for everyone, including the poor and middle class. That's what John F. Kennedy was driving at when he said, "A rising tide (in the economy) lifts all boats." Socialism strangles economic growth in the crib by penalizing success and rewarding failure. When you loot the successful people in a society to give it to the less successful, you quite naturally reduce the number of successful people and encourage more people to fail. This leads to a never-ending cycle. The more people in need there are, the more the successful must be penalized to pay for them. The more the successful are penalized, the fewer successful people there are. This causes wealth to concentrate in fewer hands, the economy slows down, and even more people need help. It goes on and on until you get a slow economy that can't produce enough tax revenue to sustain itself. That's exactly what killed the Soviet Union, it's killing Greece right now and sadly, the United States and most of Western Europe is on exactly the same path.

2) It stifles free speech: Why is there ridiculous government propaganda in nations like North Korea? Why are most schools, papers, and colleges run by liberals in the United States? Why do liberals often try to disrupt conservative speakers on college campuses? Why are there such extreme speech codes in Canada that it practically makes some conservative arguments illegal? Why does speaking out against the government risk imprisonment in China and the old Soviet Union? Because socialism requires protection, propaganda, intimidation, and darkness to survive. Socialism can't survive honest, informed debate about its merits among people who are free to choose or reject it because it would not survive the conversation. As Reagan said, "How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

3) It leads to an increasingly tyrannical government: Freedom and socialism go together like oil and water. The more socialism you have, the less freedom you will have because socialism can't survive if people are free to choose whether they want socialism or not. People who are free to say what they want will criticize socialism's many failures. Areas that aren't tightly controlled will move towards the free exchange of ideas and goods, not socialism. So, socialism requires a massive bureaucracy that almost inevitably grows. As government grows, it inevitably becomes more centralized, more distant from the people and ultimately more menacing.

4) It creates strife and division: Socialism is all about turning people against each other. It has to be. After all, if you believe in controlling people's lives, the people who don't wish to be controlled need to be vilified. If you believe in confiscating the wealth of successful people who won't give it up willingly, then others must be convinced they're terrible human beings who deserve to be punished. "Victim" classes must be created for the socialists to defend because if everyone is responsible for himself, what need is there for the socialist? Eventually, those who depend on government for their livelihood and those that the government smears and loots to pay them off come to hate each other.

5) Socialists believe the ends justify the means: Like the pigs in Orwell's Animal Farm, socialists believe that, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." For a socialist, the overriding concern is always promoting socialism so process, rules and regulation mean different things for different people. Fidel Castro may have been the leader of a Communist revolution against the evil "rich people" in Cuba, but he’s worth 900 million dollars today. A law broken by a Democrat and a Republican may be treated very differently by the papers, the courts, and even the Department of Justice under Eric Holder. As Margaret Thatcher explained,

"Left-wing zealots have often been prepared to ride roughshod over due process and basic considerations of fairness when they think they can get away with it. For them the ends always seems to justify the means. That is precisely how their predecessors came to create the gulag."

One of the reasons so many socialist nations are wracked with violent protests and revolutions is because when the rule of law is abandoned, only outlaws have any hope of receiving justice.

Watch the video: Υπαρκτός σοσιαλισμός και ηθική (June 2022).


  1. Mazushakar

    It is a pity, that now I can not express - it is compelled to leave. But I will be released - I will necessarily write that I think.

  2. Manos

    Author, what city do you live in, if not a secret?

  3. Terrell

    Everything is clear and to the point. Well written, thank you.

  4. Norm

    not so bad!

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